TV Show Review

TV Review: AGENT CARTER: Season 1, Episode 5: The Iron Ceiling [ABC]

Atwell McDonough The Iron Ceiling

ABC’s Agent Carter The Iron Ceiling TV Show Review. Agent Carter: Season 1 Episode 5: The Iron Ceiling is filled with such a fantastic blend of action, humor and character development that I can decisively say that this is the episode of the series that fans have been demanding.

After last week’s jaw dropping revelation that Peggy (Hayley Atwell) had recovered Steve Roger’s blood, episode 5, The Iron Ceiling had some Hulk sized boots to fill as far as shocking revelations go. Although there was no huge surprise on par with what we saw last week, The Iron Ceiling offered the most gratifying episode of Agent Carter yet. The Iron Ceiling proved to be a major turning point in the series by reshuffling the deck of characters and re-aligning all the personalities and relationships that we have grown accustomed to on the series so far.

The Iron Ceiling kicked off with the SSR team frantically working on deciphering the encoded message that came in at the end of last week’s episode, The Blitzkrieg Button. Much to the surprise of the SSR agents, Peggy was able to apply her knowledge from working on the front lines of the war to crack the mysterious code. After the Chief (Shea Whigham) decided to send an SSR team out into the field to investigate the coordinates revealed in the encoded message, Peggy had to resort to pulling strings with some old friends in order to have herself included on the assignment.

Agent Carter has certainly taken its sweet time putting Peggy in a position that would allow her to earn the respect of her team. Up until now, the SSR agents have been nothing more than a constant wall of resistance constantly inhibiting Peggy’s progress, personified last week by a defiant Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) flat out telling Peggy that no man would ever respect her. It wasn’t until last week’s episode that it even seemed plausible that The Chief would allow Peggy do anything more significant than bring the team coffee.  By forcing the audience to wait several weeks for Peggy to gain an opportunity to prove herself, watching Peggy finally earn the chance to work alongside the SSR field agents and head off to Russia was incredibly satisfying.

The Iron Ceiling finally unraveled the mystery of Agent Thompson’s intense disdain for Peggy. So far, Agent Carter has been a series that focuses on the sacrifices required to be as an unsung hero and this episode showed us what happens when some of the heroes we place in the spotlight are held up to scrutiny, which ultimately revealed that  Agent Thompson is the antithesis of Peggy. We found out that while Thompson plays the role of a hero and receives all the praise and accolades that come along with it, he is not even close to being the man that others see him as and believes himself to be a coward. The series definitely seems to be making a statement about how willingly we accept and fawn over our heroes as long as they fit into the expectations that we have of what a hero should be. Although Peggy saving Agent Thompson during a gunfight earned her some long overdue respect, I really wanted to see Peggy win the SSR men over with her brains instead of her braun. As much as the audience has been clamoring to see Peggy finally be regarded as competent by her peers, it would have been preferable to see it occur in a more subtle manner.

The most intriguing aspect of The Iron Ceiling was the way that the episode turned all the relationships in the show on their head. Even though the episode begins by reminding us that Peggy is on the outs with her former companions Howard (Dominic Cooper) and Jarvis (James D’Arcy), The Chief and Agent Thompson have now experienced Peggy’s elite skills first hand and will have no choice but to utilize her from here on in. Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), the one agent that was sympathetic to Peggy’s plight is now suspicious of Peggy and secretly hot on her trail. The SSR is now considering the possibility that the Stark case that they are investigating is not as open and shut as they thought regarding Stark being a traitor. And finally, we know that Peggy’s newest friend Dottie (Bridget Regan), is a deadly Russian spy, trained in the Black Widow program. Going in to the final few episodes of the season, Agent Carter has shattered all its familiar alliances and nothing on the show feels certain.

Agent Carter gave us yet another episode with exciting ties to the Captain America film. Seeing the SSR team neglect to embrace Peggy’s skills every week despite her knowledge and combat history has consistently been hard to swallow and this episode certainly rectified that. Although Peggy was on the front lines during the war, many of the men that she works with felt that she was just a tag along who survived because elite soldiers like Captain America were keeping her safe. Bringing in the revered Howling Commandos and seeing them defer to Peggy should finally silence Peggy’s critics. Peggy and Dum Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough) had wonderful chemistry, and the commandos  inclusion into the episode felt like a natural extension of the story in the film Captain America and not some characters jammed into the episode just so ABC could boost ratings by  saying, “Hey look! This is connected to Captain America!” Although not as important to the show as the existence of Steve Roger’s blood, the flashback to the early “Black Widow” training program was just as delicious of a treat. Dottie seems to be the perfect foil to Peggy and with only 3 episodes left in the season I can’t imagine that Peggy will remain oblivious to the nefarious spy in her midst much longer.

The Iron Ceiling is the most gratifying episode of Agent Carter yet. Since the first episode of the show, the audience has been clamoring to see the super competent Peggy finally earn the respect that she deserves and this episode finally took the the first steps toward that happening. It was extremely rewarding to see Peggy get asked out for a drink with the guys (especially after how awkward she seemed sitting down for breakfast with the girls at the Griffith last week). Despite temporarily losing allies in Howard and Jarvis, Peggy has gained the support and resources of the SSR (it looks like Thompson and Sousa have swapped places). I’m looking forward to seeing how Peggy operates now that she finally has a little less resistance and a bit of wind at her back although her new found allies may not matter now that she appears to be on an unsuspecting collision course with the insidious Dottie.

Final Thoughts

How chilling was it to see Dottie use handcuffs the same way that Linus from The Peanuts gang uses his blanket?

After seeing the Black Widow programs trainees run in and out of those vents, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Little Sisters in Bioshock

How thoroughly did Dottie go through Peggy’s room? Did Peggy have an opportunity to patch up that hole behind the painting yet?

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About the author

Victor Stiff

Born and raised in Toronto, Victor has spent the past decade using his love and knowledge of the city to highlight and promote significant cultural events such as TIFF, The IIIFA awards, and the Anokhi Gala. He is an avid reader of Sci-fi and Horror and constantly sits through indie film marathons in rabid anticipation of the genre’s next great film auteurs. He also contributes sci-fi and fantasy movie reviews to

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